Public Health officials released information Friday about what the state agency called positive indicators on COVID-19 in Georgia.

They include lower numbers of cases over the past week and decreasing COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide.

And the percentage of tests coming back positive has dipped below 10 percent, the Department of Public Health announced.

The news release comes as national evaluations target Georgia as a state that is not making progress on curbing virus transmissions.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force report again put Georgia in a COVID-19 “red zone,’’ a designation that calls for aggressive steps to slow the spread of the virus, including a mask requirement. The report said Georgia had “widespread and expanding community viral spread,” the AJC said in an article.

COVID Exit Strategy still lists Georgia, as well as other Southeastern states, as having “uncontrolled spread’’ of the virus. The website also says Georgia is doing just 28 percent of the COVID testing that’s needed to curb transmissions.

And Georgia, despite lower case numbers, still is reported as having the second-highest COVID rate per capita over the past week, as indicated by the New York Times.

Twice this week, the number of Georgia virus deaths reported daily has climbed to more than 100, shattering the record for the previous high.

The state, in its Friday press release, also said the major metro Atlanta counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Cobb (the four most populous counties in Georgia) are seeing decreasing case numbers.

Dr. Harry Heiman, a health policy expert at Georgia State University, was highly critical of the press release, saying Friday that “I think it is disappointing and disturbing that in a week when the White House Coronavirus Task Force reported that Georgia is in the red zone . . . and a week in which we are experiencing our highest COVID-related death counts, DPH is cherry-picking data to make it look like things are under control.’’

Bleckley County

He urged the state’s leadership to ‘’meaningfully act to address the crisis we are facing.’’

Public Health officials in the press release also acknowledged that cases are rising in rural counties such as Bleckley, Appling, Wayne, Taylor and Crawford. Northwest Georgia is also seeing more cases, driven in part by outbreaks in manufacturing facilities, as well as areas of South Georgia.

Public Health listed 110 outbreaks during the week of Aug. 6 through 12. It defined outbreak as more than the expected number of cases — basically two or more cases in one place within a 14-day period.

The outbreaks included:

  • Long-term care facilities, 23
  • Schools/school athletic teams, 14
  • Offices/workplaces, 14
  • Manufacturing facilities,13
  • Prisons/jails,13
  • Churches, 8
  • Restaurants, 4

In other COVID-19 news, the last call for alcohol will now be 11:30 p.m. in Athens bars, and patrons must clear out by midnight, under a settlement between the Athens-Clarke County government and six bar owners. The business owners sued the government last month after the mayor and commission approved an ordinance moving last call to 10 p.m. (Here’s an article on the settlement in the Athens Banner-Herald.)

And late Friday, the AJC reported that Gov. Brian Kemp will sign an executive order that allows some local governments to require face coverings on their own property days after he abandoned a legal challenge that sought to block Atlanta’s mask mandate.

Andy Miller

Andy Miller

Andy Miller, Senior Editor, has been a health care journalist for 29 years. Miller graduated from Duke in 1973 and received a master’s in education from Duke in 1979. He was a social studies teacher...